How Do I Hang Thee?

….let me count the ways.

There are countless ways to hang our hooked pieces, and I am always looking for that one way that suits me best. For those who like sewing, lovely tabs which show above the hooking make a nice finish….but I hate sewing! Others frame their work, but that is expensive, and not a look that I generally want. …so I keep trying different ways.

Emma Sue is quite small and is simply hung with a strip of tack board (or whatever you call the edge pieces used to install wall to wall carpeting)DSCF5935


My “no penny penny rug” is larger, so Ray used the tack board all the way around to keep it straight and secure on the wall.



This method works well, but leaves a lot of holes in the wall, and if for any reason you want to take the rug down for awhile, you have an ugly frame on the wall.

When I was hanging Hygieia (or more accurately, when Ray was hanging Hygieia) I wanted a more decorative way of doing it, and being that the rug was large and heavy, it needed to be able to support her weight. We bought a heavy curtain rod with  fancy finials, andsecured it at both ends and in the middle. Ray had rebuilt the wall with support behind the dry wall so it would hold it easily.



I inserted a metal rod in the bottom pocket to hold it down and help it to hang straight. (it doesn’t ordinarily stick out)


This topic is on my mind, because this week we have been putting our living room back together after another renovation task is completed, and finally hanging art work and putting up Adele and Althea where we can enjoy them every day. Again I wanted a decorative way to hang them, but nothing as extensive (or as expensive) as what we used for Hygieia. I just love the simple solution we came up with.

I found solid brass pull knobs at Home depot, and Ray installed then on the end of a piece of 5/8″ dowel. He then put two large heavy brass hooks into the wall and hung the pieces. I put a smaller piece of dowling in the bottom sleeve to hod them down.


Here is Althea in her place of honour.


….and Adele in hers….



We’re on a roll…as I write this, Ray is preparing another dowel to hang my Dahlov Ipcar piece in the TV room.

A yucky January thaw is suddenly upon us, and we’ve gone from ridiculous cold and snow  to mild and melting . I have my fingers crossed that the basement doesn’t flood, or the world become a skating rink when it once again drops below freezing. Never a dull moment this winter!

Starting Magdelena Briner and Finishing Althea

While I’ve always admired rugs hooked in the primitive style, I was never inspired to hook one myself. But then I kept seeing the rugs of Magdelena Briner Eby on various sites. and was fascinated by her distinctive style and colours. I decided my next venture would be a primitive rug in her style.   I ordered the book “Rug Hooking Traditions with Magdelena Briner Eby” from Woolley Fox  and quickly read it from cover to cover..DSCF5102_2

..and now  I’m beginning my Magdelena style rug. I wanted to use animals that were significant to me, and thought of the wildlife of this area…..deer, beaver, moose etc….but others have done that. I wanted something more personal.

I made a list of the pets my youngest son has had, and it turned out to be 4 dogs, 6 cats, and one white rat, plus numerous fish…..aha…that sounds like a “rug full”….so my next venture is entitled “Mathieu’s Pets”.


I sketched outlines, and made templates on bristol board.


….then simply traced them on the backing.  Right away it becomes apparent why I have never been a “primitives ” hooker….my animals even just as outlines…are way too accurate….but I can only go against my own nature just so far….and this may become more a memory rug than anything else.

I love the colours and backgrounds of the Magdelena rugs, and when I was at  R.U.G. I picked up some wool that I thought of as” Magdelena colours.”


.I have lots of “blacks” to “spark” these up.

..and pulled out a stack of browns I bought last year from Jennifer Manuell..


….sorry…I forgot to crop that plastic bag they are sitting on…..So those are the basic colours I’m thinking of using (but always subject to change).

I’m itching to get hooking now….BUT….first ….the dreaded finishing requirement is once more upon me.

May 25th weekend is the yearly Annual of OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild) in Kingston. And while I’m not going to it this year, the Sunshine Rug Hookers will have a display and Althea is to make the trip on my behalf.

When I finished hooking her, my back and legs were acting up. so I rolled her up without even steaming her. Now she must be finished and ready to go in less than a week.

My first little problem came with the zigzagging when I had to deal with the fact that I had drawn the pattern way too close to one side (who knows why!) I solved that little dilemma by leaving half the tape on the edge and sewing through it so it wouldn’t ravel.


I pulled off the excess when I was done, and didn’t worry about what was left.

My preference for my rugs which will hang on the wall is to just turn the backing under……but I still like it to be a nicely finished rug, with straight edges, and  stitching hidden as much as I can. I fold and steam along the ditches, and have fought with myriad pins during this process in the past . I now have these wonderful little clips  ( intended for quilters) which make the process soooo much easier…not one pin required!


…everything is held securely in place, and I just remove the clips before steaming that section.


I like that straight edge with no pin marks or puckers. I use the backing to create a pocket for the rod, so it is all in one process,. That’s why there are no mitered corners.


So here is Althea, laying up-side-down to dry, and all I have to do now is blind stitch the edges down before next Tuesday….easy..peasy!

Sites where I got my Magdelena inspiration….three of my favourites..check them out!

Thanks for stopping by.

The Finishing Touches

Over the weekend I finished the last little bits of background on Althea, then spent yesterday on the finishing touches. To start with she looked like this.DSCF4880I began with her left eye, which still bothered me even after twice trying to fix it before.

I decided that it was too wide at the edge of her face, so I took out the little white part at the edge and swept the upper eye down around the pupil.DSCF4901Then I tackled the nose. It too had undergone several changes (none of which I liked) and I knew it would be hard to take out because of the embroidery thread which was sewn in to create the outline.DSCF4904It took me ages, using a pair of tweezers to remove the grey, and the tiny pieces I’d used for the edge of the nose. Then I pondered how to make it better, stared at my pictures, and thought about advice I’d received. I finally made two alterations…..I made the right nostril larger, thus changing the entire angle of the nose, and then straightening the nose itself, and reducing the bottom left, since it was now more in profile that before.  Does that make sense??DSCF4905This is her new nose.

Another area that bothered me was the grey outline on her skin. It looked too much like a coloured outline, rather than a shadow… I took out the part around her face. I found a piece of flesh tone wool that I had overdyed grey, and thought it might be less stark than the grey I’d used. I removed the part between her face and hair completely, and left a bit of her cheek with no outlining. I used a #4 cut and hooked it very low so it would not be so prominent. I touched up the flesh by replacing that brownish strip to the right of her lips, and added a few more pinkish “face strips”  at the top of her neck to help in the transition from one “batch of flesh wool” to the next.DSCF4909Whew!! Done. All that remains is the steaming and finishing.

Unfortunately, I’ve once again injured my knee and standing to steam her will have to wait a bit. DSCF4910Yikes…perhaps I should stop looking at her…because now that I’ve altered her eye and her nose…I think I should change her mouth as well. …but then I think it’s just the angle of this photo.    I’m done…she’s done.DSCF4907

So here she is…my Althea….an adaptation of Klimt‘s “Lady with Fan”.  36″ x 36″ wool on rugwarp, completed in 4 months…December 2012 to March 2013….a tribute to my sister Audrey who died January 10th, 2013.

Working With Values

I am oh so bad with colour theory! Unless pushed, I know I don’t think in technical “colour terms” the way I should/could.  It’s not that I don’t consider value, intensity, tint, shade, etc. etc., I just don’t think in those actual terms. I make an uneducated guess, and fix/change as I’m working . I spend a great deal of time looking at my work and deciding what works and what doesn’t work, As a result I have a lot of difficulty choosing an entire colour palette before I begin hooking, and usually end up with a drastic departure from my original ideas. Since I dye my own wool, this isn’t as much of a  problem as it would be if I had to choose all my colours from a store or vendor beforehand.

BUT…I want to get better at it, and Wanda Kerr’s on-line course is a great way to force myself to consider value as decider number one when it comes to wool choice….to analyze in terms of plane and cohesion BEFORE I start to hook.

I’m going to try and hook this little piece entirely from existing wool in my stash, but the operative word there is TRY. I am at heart a monochromatic person, so if the colours are too different, I may have to amend them in a little blending stew.DSCF4847Here’s my pattern.DSCF4862I chose a selection of blues from my stash that I thought might work, but they cover a wide range of values.DSCF4870I settled on these medium and dark values, plus the greyish white for the moonDSCF4867These browns are possibilities for the groundDSCF4868I found two bags of green strips that may workDSCF4871…and began sorting them according to valueDSCF4872They were mostly an 8 cut, so I’m cutting them down the middle so they are roughly a 4 cutDSCF4874I haven’t forgotten Althea. I’ve been working away on the background, and it’s nearly done. Then I will be forced to tackle her hand, and the re-do of her nose. I’ll need to be in the right mood when I sit down to destroy her face, and re-hook it.

Although it is officially spring, we still have about a foot of snow on the front lawn, so no need yet to think about spring clean-up and yard work. I can happily stay indoors and hook to my heart’s content.

Thanks for stopping by.

This and That

The other day at a hooking gathering, we were discussing our work for the barn project. I mentioned that I had grown to dislike mine, and had put it away unfinished.DSCF4846
Although I was faithful to the photo in most aspects, it seemed boring and BLAH. Gail and Cheri (two wonderful and creative hookers) suggested that perhaps it needed a spark of colour  hidden in the foliage, or barnboards. Lynda even donated some rich wine strips for the purpose. So that is what I’m contemplating with my poor old barnDSCF4847

Those of you who are members of the Welcome Mat, likely know that Wanda has had an online course recently dealing with aspects of landscape. What a wonderful learning opportunity. I have drawn the pattern, but haven’t started mine yet, but I can hardly wait to try and incorporate her ideas .

This and That

…and finally I have been plugging away at the background of Althea.I was surprised at how much wool it took.  I dyed one yard, thinking that there really wasn’t much open area to cover. ( it’s 36″ x 36″ ) but I’ve had to dye an extra 1/2 yard to have enough to finish it.  Although I used the same recipe, I decided to make some subtle changes, so that there was a little wider range of colour shades and intensites to work with. I simply added a little less than 1/2 of the dye bath to the original pot before adding the wool, then waited longer before I spooned on the second half . I’m happy with the results.

Filling and Fiddling

After two tries (and failures) at reproducing the left over flesh tones I had used on Althea’s face, I thought I might have to take out the face and re-do the whole thing with a new colour. Sometimes I wonder at my own stupidity! I had only read the first part of the recipe I’d used originally, when in fact there were three steps needed  to get the  colour I was after.


So I took my two “failures” and overdyed them (as per my own instructions) with more pink sand and a bit of charcoal grey, and I had my flesh tones.

Althea has undergone two “chin reductions”.


I was never impressed with her original chin line. I thought it was too prominent.


….so when I was redoing her nose, I reduced the chin line by one row of hooking.


When I started doing the neck, it still seemed too heavy , so I reduced it yet another row, and now I feel she has a more attractive chin . (I still intend to redo her nose and probably make adjustments to her left eye)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the style of hooking used for  filling, and the effects it can have on a piece. While the hooking of the facial features is directional, her neck and chest are hooked with squiggles to give the effect of an expanse of skin.


I wanted the background to both highlight the objects of the piece, and as well have some interest of its own. I was struck by the beautiful background on a tea cozy being hooked by Gene Shepherd, and used that as my inspiration. While Gene’s background was primarily one colour, he had created interest with occasional circular movement of the filling. I decided to use an echo backround ( hooking around the features outward) but emphasizing areas which had curves, by extending them much further than I would normally do for an echo filling.


I also eliminated a number of leaves and flowers since I felt certain areas were too cluttered.


I’m hoping the overall effect will be pleasing to look at.


While this flower shows clearly against the background up close, it gets a bit lost when looked at from a distance. The values are too close, and I’m still pondering how I will address that…if at all.


The blank areas are getting smaller and smaller, and the completion is in sight, but  I already have two new projects in mind so I am a happy hooker!

Dyeing the Background for Althea

I have the background underway, and I’m still procrastinating about the face and the flesh tones.


I’m still debating about removing the face altogether (except the lips, one eye and the ear, which I like) and redoing it with a newly dyed batch so I have enough of the same colour to do the whole thing…..since I can’t seem to match this colour.   SOOOO…while I dabate this dilemma with myself, I’ve gone on to the background.

I got out a variety of existing yellows from my stash, and thought I’d try transition dyeing to blend and mix the various yellow tones.


Well that was a raging failure! They certainly match some better, but are still way too far apart, and don’t have blending sections so that I can merge them while hooking.

I knew I wanted a gold colour with some depth to it, so I found a yellow I liked in the sample colours from the book Jewel Tones, which I had borrowed from the Sunshine library. I decided to start by dyeing 1/2 yard. Simple….except that the Jewel Tones book is written for 1/3 yard of wool ripped into two – 8 tone swatches, and the one I liked called for the dyes yellow, sun yellow, golden yellow, and chestnut brown. I have neither golden yellow or chestnut brown.

Not to be deterred by the fact that I had the wrong amount of wool and the wrong dyes, I forged ahead. I checked my prochem swatches, and decided that cantaloupe would do for golden yellow, and chocolate brown wasn’t too far off from chestnut brown. I mixed it in two colour baths as per the instructions, and from then on …went my own way. I put half of each dye solution in the dye pot, added the wool and spooned the other halves over the wool  later when much of the colour had been taken up. I didn’t actually stir, but moved the wool around enough so that the colour differences blurred.


This is what I ended up with, and I’m delighted. (it’s all carefully written in my recipe book so I can re-create it)


Off I went to a hook-in on Friday and started the background.


As usual, I jumped around to see how the background would look. I started doing it against the darker sections.

You would have laughed if you’d seen me trying to get a picture of the whole thing on Saturday morning. It was hanging up in such a way that to get the entire piece in the photo I had to half stand in the middle of the bed, leaning this way and that to try and get it straight on.


I fell over several times in my attempts, and the dog thought he should come to my rescue and lick my face, or make this into a great new game. There were a multitude of shots like this one….chopped off and not straight on.


Finally! A straight-on shot of the whole piece. Whew.

I should get lots of hooking done this week with the Briar on every day. I’m the world’s most avid Television listener.

Thanks for stopping by.

Working in a Flower Garden

This week has been a labour of love in a flower garden. (well not always)


The main things on my mind were balancing the flower and leaf colours over the whole piece, and what kind of dyeing technique to use to use to create the effects I wanted.


At the bottom right it was simple enough to use the dip dyed salmon for the large flower, but a dip dye wool wouldn’t work for the other flower on this stem.


I ended up cutting the piece of wool the other way (dark end and light end), and using the darkest and lightest colours to create the frilled petals.

The same problen arose with these flowers.


The one on the left I did with 3 versions of pink sand, and I ended up with a pale blob of nothing. I thought at first I would just use one colour for the ones on the right…again…another ugly blob. I took that out, and at the point where I took this photo, I thought I’d try outlining in a darker colour, and filling in with a ligher version of the same wool….equally ugly. Frustrated, I went digging in my stash of red left overs. I found a 6 colour swatch in a colour that would work (an orange red).


There was very little wool, but I managed to get enough. I did opposite petals the same colour, choosing two colours far enough apart in the swatch that they were easily distinguished. The petals are in the darkest green I have for this piece. I like the flowers, but worried that the whole area was too dark (being that it was beside the phoenix) I’ve decided to leave it though, since the background will be “yellow” and hopefully that will give a “spark” to this more intense area.


So most of the left side is done, with the exception of my pink sand blob.


I started ripping it out, but when I got this far, I realized that maybe there was hope for it yet. If the botton section of the flower became green, and the petals were subtly distinguished …..I’m still pondering this one!

When in doubt….leave it alone and go on to something else. (did my mother tell me that?)

I did this flower with a paler salmon dip dye. The edges weren’t well enough delineated, so I inserted a wee strip of very dark salmon between the petals.


I’m calling this a stylized water lily. I copied Klimt’s use of black outlining for this and rather like it.


It’s done in a paprika dip dye, and since it was outlined, I  mostly used  the dark part of the strips.


Just simple circles with the dip dye for these little berries (or buds)


Well that’s what I accomplished this week.

I’m thinking ahead to the background. I know what kind of end result I want, but I haven’t yet decided how best to achieve it. … dye…..pancake dye….a variety of colours in individual pieces.?? This morning Wanda Kerr has an article on wandering wool   and how to dye it…a bit of a twist on what I’ve tried and I think it may be worth a try……There’s always something new to attempt…One of the reasons I love rug hooking.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chugging Along

I’ll start at the end. This is what I’ve accomplished on Althea this week.


….the fan, the kimono sleeve lining, the peacock, and two groups of flowers. As usual, it has been a process. some things work, and many more need rethinking or redoing along the way.


This is the wool I used for the fan. All the colours except the dark one I have used in other places in the piece. I had the centre completed, when I realized that the triangle was in the wrong spot….so out it all came and was moved to the right and down.


The dark colour is from a grey cashmere jacket that I had overdyed with navy and mahogany. I had originally intended to use it for Hygieia, but it wasn’t right there, but came in handy for here. The cashmere has lots of depth and richness (which you can’t really see in the photo). It’s also quite thick, and doesn’t fray when it’s cut in a very small strip, so it was easy to use for the outlining.


To hook the bit of the lining of the sleeve, I just used squiggles of many of the kimono colours.


I’m calling this a peacock, although comments about the painting that I’ve read don’t mention what this bird is. I hooked the back in ordered sequence (as you would for stained glass) in order to get the effect of the spotted wool. The breast is the same yellow that I overdyed with mallard green and used for the outlining on the phoenix. The head is a pale spot dye of Sea Breeze and Mallard green. My favourite part of this bird is his eye. His neck looks a bit too thick to me, so he may be in for a trim!

The original painting has multitudinous colours of pink and red in the flowers, so I thought I’d introduce a new pink in the lotus flowers. I spot dyed 1/8th yard with raspberry (and something else which I’ve forgotten).


I hadn’t gone very far when I began to wonder about it. Actually I didn’t like any of it! Didn’t like the spot dye effect, and didn’t like the colour.


When I got home from a hooking get together on Friday, and hung it up to take a look at the whole thing, I could hardly wait to get it pulled out! The colour has no connection with the rest of the piece at all. I decided to change tactics altogether, and dip dyed  2 1/16th yard pieces.


This dip dye is Cantaloupe with a bit of Black to dull it down.


The second is Cantaloupe by itself.

I can’t believe how easy it was to do the dip dyes in the microwave. I actually did the dipping just on the kitchen counter (using boiling water as the only heat source) then when almost all the dye was taken up, I popped the whole thing in the microwave for 2 minutes, and it was done!


I feel there is a cohesiveness to the colour palette now that really pleases me.

I guess I did a lot of hooking yesterday. I was so anxious to see how the dip dyes would work. My wrist is a bit tender this morning so I’d better take it a bit slower….did I mention that I’m impatient?

Mouse Grey and Sand Pink

Every piece I do is a learning experience, and some “little girl” part of me gets excited whenever I figure out something new (for me) and like the results. This week has been one of those “aha” times.


I ‘ve been hooking the kimono, and (as usual) struggling with the colours. At the end of the last blog, I mentioned that I was soaking some pale lilac wool to overdye.


The results were pretty, but glaring against the other colours of the kimomo.

Then Dorr came to my rescue. My 5 yards of natural arrived, and I was in 7th heaven. I have lots of recycled wool in my stash, and use it whenever I can, but I love nothing more than the feel and joy of hooking with freshly dyed new wool. I rationalize the expense by comparing it to the cost of buying wool dyed by someone else, and by resisting the urge to replace my Bliss and Frazer cutters with a Beeline or Ault.

But I digress….I wanted some very pale pink, some shades of brown, and mauve and blue, and some very dark wool for the stripes. Everything I tried looked garish. I liked the splotches at the bottom of the kimono, and had created them by dyeing mouse grey and pink sand over oatmeal wool. It dawned on me ( it should have occured to me sooner) to introduce at least one of these two colours in everything, and now I’m so pleased with the overall results. My aim is not to try and reproduce the original colours, but to achieve the essential overall effect.


I overdyed the light brown houndstooth with mouse grey.(the dyed piece is on the right). It looks splotchy and ungly in the piece, but suddenly “matched” the rest of the kimono.


I did the same thing with  maple sugar pieces and now they co-ordinate too.


The pink plaid (overdyed with pink sand and mouse grey) was originally intended to be in the light part, but is now in the dark section.


I used lazy swatches of pink sand for the pale colours, and my main deep blue for the stripes.


Now I’m happy and can’t wait to finish this section. I think Althea is smiling too.